Welcome back! How are you?
Here, everything is moving forward at a steady pace. The biggest news is probably that I have moved the location of where I am actually building this. You can read more about that on my Instagram, and further down below.

But let’s dive into what’s happened with the van since last time.

Building Bench Finishers

The benches has been finished. Structurally anyway. They still need sanding, painting and sealing. But they are build. The hinges and gas struts work, and they have already been used quite a bit to carry tools and camping gear.

Here’s the finished product minus the middle bench lid, which you can see completed below.

I actually ended up taking the middle bench out completely out months later, because I wanted to rebuild that section, due to poor wood quality. I then realised that I loved the open space with it not there, so I left it out! Which lead to a whole set of new complications, you can read more about in future blogs.

Bed conversion prepping

The very last thing to build on the benches, was the ledges the table is going to rest on when converting into bed-mode. They have been glued and screwed in from the back. I also made a temporary tabletop, so I could use the bed immediately. For camping trips etc, and it also gave me a rough template for when I actually need to cut the real table.

Kitchen Framing & drawer building

The very first piece of cabinetry began with framing of the kitchen unit. Build from solid pine lumber, screwed and glued together. Then screwed into both the walls and floor, making it really solid.

Looking back at the kitchen unit today (about 5 months in the future). I would have build the entire thing out of ply instead of framing. Framing give you more room to make mistakes and still be fine. But it can be really tricky getting things straight and on 90 degree angles, unless you use a lot brackets, which I didn’t. This meant that building the drawers and cabinet doors, that eventually went into this unit, was incredibly hard to make fit perfectly. So I’d recommend spending the time up front building this of solid ply instead. Make sure the units are super straight and on perfect angles. It’ll save you loads of time and headaches later down the road.

Because of the issues getting the kitchen unit straight, I actually ended up building a ply box inside part of it to house the two lower drawers, that just wouldn’t fit nicely without.

The 3 drawers I ended up with, are probably the first thing I’ll rebuild after I am done with the conversion. They just didn’t turn out the way I wanted them. Building drawers that run perfectly and look great, can be tricky. But with just a few drawers build, you’re next many will be much better, so give it a go. Loads of people choose to limit the amount of drawers (if they put in any at all) and I am sure this is why. Going with cabinets and shelves are much easier to build, but drawers just make getting at things, along with organising, SO much easier. I will go into more details on all this, when I get around to writing my full e-book on the conversion in the future.

… and I moved!

The biggest change to the van wasn’t actually something I build. It was the fact that I moved into it at the end of October 2021, whilst still in the middle of the build.

There was several factors that played into this decision. I didn’t have to move, I could have stayed longer at the house I was renting at the time. But I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sign a new 1 year contract as the van would be ready before this, and I had started to run into issues building it in front of my house, as neighbours had started complaining about the noise. I stopped all work the second I got a complaint, and started to look for alternatives.

Then two of my good friends came to my rescue! Kriztina and Phil, who run an amazing dog rescue centre on the south-coast of Spain, got in touch. They had recently inherited a huge plot of land out in the middle of nowhere, with an AMAZING workshop on site! Their generosity knows no bounds and they offered me to park my van on the land, work, live and use the workshop free of charge. Please go and check them out here, they’re absolutely amazing people who have helped hundreds of sick and homeless dogs in Spain. In fact, my family has adopted a total of five dogs from there!

So even though my van was far from finished, I moved in…

Living in a van that isn’t anywhere near finished, is no picnic. Certainly doesn’t look like #Vanlife on Instagram, that’s for sure! No running water, sink, or shower. No heating and no window covers. Most of the storage space hasn’t been build, and I am sleeping on spare madrases tossed on top of the benches, that lucky was build at this time. But, it is doable! In fact I enjoyed the experience very much. Going from a huge house to basically a bed and some lights, was a great way to snap out of that old life, and realise that really, you don’t need much to be happy.

It’s not about the things, it’s about spending as much time a day doing what you truly love.